2016 Reason and Affect Conference – University of Copenhagen

CAPS > Research Projects > 2016 Reason and Affect...

A two-day international conference

Center for Anthropological, Political, and Social Theory (CAPS)

Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen

May 19 – 20, 2016

Key note speakers: 

Professor William Connolly, Johns Hopkins University
“Extinction Events and Entangled Humanism”

Professor Jane Bennett, Johns Hopkins University
“The Shapes of Sympathy: Walt Whitman and the Love of Things”


This two-day international conference interrogates the intersection of two issues important to contemporary debates about political culture, public discourse, and social activism. First, the relationship between reason and affect and its implications for how broad-based movements work can frame and inspire political change at both the local and the global level. Second, the political and social implication for a new geological epoch called the “Anthropocene.”

While reason and affect continue to constitute an issue in and of itself, recent research suggests that the age of the Anthropocene has significant implications for how we might understand the broader context(s) in which both develop across time and space. On the one hand, the Anthropocene poses questions about both the affective side of culture and the appropriate scale of politics, encouraging us to reconsider basic assumptions about agency and power. On the other hand, the Anthropocene also suggests that the single most important issue for socio-political transformation today is climate change, in particular in relation to consumption, ecology, and sustainability.

This conference proposes to bring these challenges to the forefront of the debate in the social sciences and humanities broadly understood.  We are particularly interested in papers that consider reason and affect in the Anthropocene in relation to questions about subjectivity, the nonhuman, materialism, social movements, cosmology, media, public discourse, and political agency. Papers can be theoretical or empirical (or both).

Please note that the conference is preceded by a two-day Ph.D. seminar with William Connolly and Jane Bennett. Participants in the conference are invited to participate in that seminar as well. Papers presented at the conference may be eligible for inclusion in forthcoming special issue of the journal Distinktion – Journal of Social Theory, edited by Mikael Carleheden, University of Copenhagen, and Nikolas Kompridis, Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University.

To submit an abstract (and for more information about the conference), please email Associate Professor Lars Tønder, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (email: lt@ifs.ku.dk) OR Associate Professor Mikael Carleheden, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen (email: mc@soc.ku.dk).